4:29pm

Mon February 4, 2013
Music Reviews

Is Fleetwood Mac's Expanded 'Rumours' A Bit Much?

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 10:29 am

An expanded version of Fleetwood Mac's 1977 album Rumours comes out this week, to mark the 35th anniversary of one of the top-selling albums of the '70s. The deluxe set includes demos, outtakes from the recording sessions, live recordings and a documentary DVD, along with a vinyl pressing of the original album.

The original 11 songs of the pop-rock classic Rumours can be experienced easily in one sitting. Apparently, that's just not enough anymore. When the die-hards plunk down their $85 for the superpremium version, they'll get intimate early glimpses of familiar tunes like "Songbird" and a version of "The Chain" with completely different verses.

We've seen a bunch of these Special Editions of landmark albums in the past few years. Nirvana did one for Nevermind. The Smashing Pumpkins issued a five-disc marathon containing presumably every scrap from sessions for its commercial breakthrough from 1995, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. And to mark the 25th anniversary of his hit record So, Peter Gabriel put together a box that includes an unusual collage-like demo disc entitled So DNA. It chronicles the evolution of the songs from early inspiration through the final product.

This kind of peek behind the curtain can be fascinating. But to be honest, sometimes it's less than that. For every revealing moment on the expanded Rumours, there are two or three tracks that don't add much to what we already know about this iconic album. Listening to a full disc of demos and outtakes can teach this much: Not every step in the creative process is intended for public consumption. Sometimes the well-known final versions are all you really need.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Last week, Fleetwood Mac released an expanded version of their 1977 album "Rumours," marking the 35th anniversary of one of the top-selling albums of the 1970s. The deluxe set includes demos, outtakes, live recordings and a documentary DVD, along with a vinyl pressing of the original album. It's one of a number of anniversary editions to be released lately. And to critic Tom Moon, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: The original 11 songs of Fleetwood Mac's classic "Rumours" unfold in a little over 39 minutes. For several decades, that's been perfection. But apparently, it's just not enough anymore. When die-hards plunk down their $85 for the superpremium version, they'll get intimate early sketches of familiar tunes like "Songbird."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SONGBIRD")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) And the songbirds are singing like they knew the score. And I love you, I love you, I love you like never before.

MOON: And among the surprises is this version of "The Chain" with completely different verses.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE CHAIN")

MAC: (Singing) I won't want to watch you go, no. And I won't even try. There you go down the road. Don't look to me to say goodbye. And if you don't love me now, you will never love me again. I can't stay and hear you say you would never break the chain.

MOON: We've seen a bunch of these special editions of landmark albums in the last few years. Nirvana did one for "Nevermind." The Smashing Pumpkins issued a five-disc marathon containing presumably every scrap from the 1995 "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness." And to mark the 25th anniversary of his hit record "So," Peter Gabriel put together a box that includes an unusual demo disc entitled "So DNA." Each track is a collage tracing the evolution of the songs from very early inspiration...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MOON: ...through the final product.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MOON: This kind of peek behind the curtain can be fascinating. But to be honest, sometimes it's less than that. For every revealing moment on the expanded "Rumours," there are two or three tracks that don't add much to what we already know about this iconic album. Listening to a full disc of demos and outtakes can teach us this much - not every step in the creative process is intended for public consumption. Sometimes the well-known final versions really do tell the whole story.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEVER GOING BACK AGAIN")

MAC: (Singing) Been down one time, been down two times. Never going back again.

SIEGEL: Music critic Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF CREDITS)

SIEGEL: I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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